Back in August, I published a story espousing the importance of a first concert in a music lover’s life, recounting not only my own experience with the Counting Crows at Kingsbury Hall, but also those of many of the professional musicians I’ve interviewed this year.
I also wanted to hear from readers — Did you witness something memorable? Catch an act at the height of its powers? See someone just before they stopped for good?
I promised to pick some of my favorite stories. So here we go (with some editing for brevity) …
Hey, hey, it’s The Monkees …
My first concert was in 1968 when I was 12 years old. I went with a girlfriend to see The Monkees at Valley Music Hall. After the concert, her brother drove us to Lagoon to see their follow-up concert at the Patio Gardens. When we were standing in line to go on the roller coaster, a crowd of people started screaming, and there, up the ramp, came The Monkees! Davy Jones chose my girlfriend to sit with him on the roller coaster after he saw his face on her Monkees sweatshirt.
— Annie Richie, Salt Lake City
… and Jimi Hendrix
It was summer of ’67 and my aunt asked if I would like to go to a Monkees concert. I declined — I was already into [Jimi] Hendrix. Shortly after I declined, I heard Hendrix was the opening act. I accepted!
— Mark Groenig, Park City
Meet The Beatles … and also The Monkees
I saw The Beatles in Detroit in 1964 when I was 8 years old. The air was electrified. The indoor stadium was pitch black, with strobe-light effects from thousands of old-style flashbulb cameras. There was deafening screaming and mass hysteria. I could not hear the band. I was terrified. I wish that I had been old enough to appreciate the experience. I did just that at my next concert in 1967 when I saw The Monkees!
— Susan Catenacci, Park City
Hey, ho, let’s go
My first concert was at a dingy but legendary hole-in-the-wall in Trenton, N.J., called City Gardens. I was barely 15 and got invited by a friend to go see The Ramones with her older brother. Even though it was winter outside, it was terribly hot inside, yet Joey Ramone wore his huge black leather jacket the whole time and barely moved. He looked so awkward and cool. I was really scared by the crowd, so when I slipped in the mosh pit, I expected my scrawny body to be trampled, but instead got quickly pulled up and asked if I was OK. It was an awesome experience — by the time they played “Pinhead” and chanted the “Gabba Gabba Hey” chorus, I was ready to trade my New Wave trenchcoat for leather.
— Marc Stryker, Layton
Shining bright like a Diamond
My first concert happened in 1969. My girlfriend from Wyoming came to Salt Lake City and her father asked her whom she would like to have come to see Andy Kim/Neil Diamond at the Salt Palace with her. He had tickets to that show. She said, “My friend/pen pal from Ogden, Sharon.” I fell in love with this handsome New Yorker named Neil Diamond. Over the years, my love for him has grown ever more. I have been to all his Utah concerts since the first one, April 10, 1969. In all, I have seen him 30 times in Utah, and once in Idaho, California and Arizona. I also watch his concerts now on his tour via Periscope, which his wife, Katie, films for the fans.
— Sharon Kerkman, West Jordan
A Slick performance
Somewhere in my early teens, I went to my first concert at the Terrace Ballroom in Salt Lake City. The place was full of young hippies, it had a very mellow feel to it, joints were passed freely up and down the aisles. Taj Mahal opened the show; I’d never heard of him. I was transfixed by his performance and have been a big blues fan ever since. You may have heard of the mainliner — The Jefferson Airplane tore the roof off the place! Grace Slick strutted about and gave me a serious case of the hots for her.
— Lane Wilson, Midvale
It was Oct. 12, 1982, and I was 13 years old. The Who, The Clash and David Johansen at Shea Stadium in New York. This was to be The Who’s farewell tour and would have been my only chance to see one of my favorite bands still pretty much in its prime. I begged my parents to let me go, lined up a chaperone and a good friend of the same age, and finally got permission. His mother drove from central New Jersey to the stadium in Queens, N.Y., then waited in the parking lot until the show ended. It was unreal. I was a scrawny little teenager amongst 80,000 screaming fans and had the time of my life.
— Andrew Fidelman, Draper
Bring the earplugs
1969, University of Utah, Steppenwolf. Before the concert, a roadie came out and nailed the drummer’s bass drum to a bandstand. I knew then it was going to be a loud one.
— Del Alberico, Holladay
My first concert was seeing Van Halen on the “1984” tour at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Our tickets were in the nosebleed section, so my brother and I sneaked down to the lower bowl. We kept having to move because we were obviously in someone else’s seats. We eventually moved up to where the private suites were, and this particular one was empty for the night. I remember pushing on one of the panes of glass and, to my surprise, it swung open … IT WAS UNLOCKED! You never saw two kids dive through a window so fast. We sat in this dark, unoccupied private suite and absolutely rocked out to Van Halen, watching Diamond Dave jump up and do the splits, watching Eddie and his mind-blowing solos, and Alex and his 20-minute drum solo.
— Donn Rogers, South Jordan
In the presence of gods
Talk about starting at the top: Blind Faith, with warm-up act Delaney & Bonnie — sowing the seeds for Derek and the Dominos … and Free, with pre-Bad Company Paul Rodgers. Ric Grech was an unknown then, but Steve Winwood of Traffic and Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton of Cream — we were in the presence of the gods of rock. The Salt Palace staff was hassling the roadies for nailing Baker’s drums to the stage, and the summer of ’69 anti-establishment crowd roared its disapproval.
— Terry Mundorff, Murray
Eating grapes with Radiohead
July 5, 1993, Club DV8, Salt Lake City, Radiohead. My first concert was two days before my 17th birthday. The show was amazing, loud and surprisingly violent (too many people trying to own the mosh pit). The power of Thom Yorke’s vocals mixed with Jonny Greenwood’s guitar textures shattered my expectations of what live music would be like. Hearing “You” is still one of the live music highlights of my life. After the show, my friends and I stood outside on West Temple trying to digest what we had just seen when we noticed a large motorhome/bus parked against the curb. Jonny Greenwood slid out the door onto the sidewalk. My friend had brought a promo copy of “Pablo Honey” to the show and approached Jonny to sign it. Jonny laughed and said he couldn’t believe anyone in Utah knew who Radiohead was. Thom came out with a big plate of fruit, likely stolen from the show rider, and shared a bunch of grapes with us. We all sat on the curb, eating grapes, and talked for a while about music, the USA, England and Mormons.
— Jim Rollins, Lehi